I am sorry that there has not been a post for a while, but that’s because we had a couple of slight leads we were trying to follow and were waiting for the outcomes.
As many of you may remember, we had a credible ID of Steve (he was ID’d by his SF pullover, hat, and beard) in Lordsburg on New Year’s Eve, and there was some video, which we obtained. Two of us have gone through the video, and we can’t find anyone who remotely resembles Steve. We can’t even find the person who was supposed to be wearing the pullover and hat.
A couple of weeks ago, I asked for writing samples (thanks again, Austin Dailey). That’s because we were contacted by someone who was contacted by someone who saw a trail register signed by “Otter” and knew that an Otter was missing (thank you, social media!). Here is a photo of the trail register—the entry is from January 10—so you can see what we’re talking about:
Below are photos of the writing samples that Austin pointed us to so you can compare for yourselves.
The twist to this lead is the trail register is in Florida, on the Florida National Scenic Trail.
We asked our contact at the New Mexico State Police to look into seeing whether we can get a handwriting ID, and he checked with the FBI’s handwriting department, who said they need signatures (which there isn’t on the trail register) and several writing samples (we only have the one). So the FBI can’t help us with this, and we were told that any handwriting expert would need the same things.
Of course, that didn’t stop all of us from a detailed analysis of the handwriting samples, and, of course, we are split on whether we think that register entry is Steve or not. There haven’t been any more signs or sightings of whatever Otter was on the Florida Trail, but we have trail volunteers on the lookout.
We also received a note from someone on FB about a person in Phoenix who bears a resemblance to Steve. They sent pictures. There is a resemblance, but there are also many differences, plus some other things that don’t add up. The NM State Police are following up, but we are not holding out much hope.
If anyone has any ideas about where Steve might have gone if he finished the Continental Divide Trail, we would love to hear them. Otherwise, we ask that you all continue to spread the word in the hiking community and with people who know Steve. If Steve is this Otter who is on the Florida Trail, there is a trail network that connects the Florida Trail to the Appalachian Trail, and it is getting close to the time when it is possible to start the AT, so we have started to notify people there, as well as the Pacific Crest Trail.
Many thanks to the N.M. State Police, who have been wonderful. We also couldn’t have gotten the word out as well as we have (we couldn’t have done a lot of things to help the search) without Teresa Martinez of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition, and all of the hundreds—thousands, now—of people who have been following our search, spreading the word, and providing help and support. Please keep doing it: If Steve is walking around somewhere, at some point he will come across someone who knows that we are looking for him.
One last thing: there is another person missing in an area not far from the CDT: here is the information on that search:
There is coordination between law enforcement agencies on this case and Steve’s; as of now they don’t think they are connected. We don’t think they are connected, either, but in case someone goes out in this area, please keep an eye out for Randy.
We’ll post again when we have something. But now we are just waiting for another lead to appear.